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By:    On: 2012-12-22

 The old saying about things being hotter than noon on the Fourth of July is taking on new meaning this summer as much of the country swelters under miserable conditions. Of course, many Scout camps seem to be specifically sited to catch the most afternoon sun possible while repelling any cool northerly breezes (at least that’s the way it can feel).

While we can’t do much to make camp cooler, we can take steps to keep our Scouts safe.

Perhaps the most obvious thing is to make sure they (and we) are staying hydrated. You’ve probably heard that urine is a good indicator of your hydration level—the clearer and more copious the better. Recently, the BSA has released a free color chart that makes this old rule of thumb even easier to use by matching specific shades with various hydration levels. You can download it at Also included is a heat-index chart that indicates how much water you should be drinking at different heat-index levels.

A less obvious thing we can do is make sure our Scouts (and we) are using sunscreen. A recent study from the Skin Cancer Foundation found that nearly half of all adult males reported that they’d used no sunscreen at all in the past 12 months. (You can learn more at As a result, men are much more likely than women to develop melanoma.

In Scouting, we teach habits – the daily good turn, for example – that last a lifetime. I can think of few better health habits to teach than using sunscreen regularly and monitoring your hydration level.

Republished with permission of Mark Ray at

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